All Native Basketball Tournament inducts Hall of Fame class of 2013

Left to right: Andy Peers Jr., Bill Wilson, Rod Bolton and Billy Robinson.  - Shaun Thomas
Left to right: Andy Peers Jr., Bill Wilson, Rod Bolton and Billy Robinson.
— image credit: Shaun Thomas

Prince Rupert's own Billy Robinson, Rod Bolton and Bill Wilson of Kitamaat and the late Andy Peers Sr. Joined the best-of-the-best of the All Native Basketball Tournament on Friday night as they were inducted into the Hall of Fame during a center-court ceremony.

Robinson coached the NBA Beavers to four consecutive Intermediate Division titles from 1976 to 1979, a streak that remains the longest in the divisions history, as well as a fifth banner in 1981. Before coaching, he played for the Prince Rupert Chiefs, Hartley Bay, Sunnyside and Port Simpson and picked up an all-star selection every year from 1962 to 1966. After accepting his plaque and jacket, the often quiet Robinson passed the microphone to daughter Jill MacNeill to address the crowd.

"My father is extremely proud to be inducted into the All Native Tournament Hall of Fame... And I am extremely proud of all of my father's accomplishment's," said an emotional McNeill.

Another inductee with a history behind the bench and on the court, Bill Wilson of Kitamaat. After plaing in the early 1960s, Wilson moved on to coach the Haisla Intermediates to a division championship in 1975 and was the coach for five of the six Senior Division banners won during the Haisla Dynasty from 1975 to 1979.

"It is an honour to be standing here out of all people in all places. It has been a great journey – I have had some stumbling blocks but kept pushing forward," he said.

"Standing here before you I am very thankful... It has been awesome."

Another key component of the Haisla Dynasty, a team that was inducted en-masse in 2008 was Rod Bolton, though health issues kept him from attending that ceremony. This year though, Wilson accepted his jacket, his plaque, and his place in the tournament's history.

"I want to thank the Haisla Nation for all of the support they have shown. It is you who have made the difference," he said, adding that he continues to come to the tournament to watch the games and catch up with old friends.

"Thank you so much for this evening, and God bless you all."

The final inductee, sadly, couldn't be in attendance for his induction. Andy Peers Sr. of the Heiltsuk Nation of Bella Bella passed away on Sept. 4, 2011 after a career that included playing in the tournament, coaching the Bella Bella Intermediates to a championship in 1974, attending the tournament for more than 50 years and shaping Heiltsuk greats like three-time Masters MVP Mitch Martin and fellow Hall of Famer Cliff Starr Jr. Andy's family accepted his plaque and jacket to the applause of every person in the Russell Gamble Gymnasium.

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